Gluten-free lemon and lime bars are popular items. Photo courtesy of Baked True North.

When Lauren Marts perfected her chocolate chip cookie recipe, she knew her baking business was headed in the right direction.

At the end of May, Marts will open Baked True North at 1137 Perry Highway in Ross Township, offering delicious cookies, cakes, breads, scones, lemon bars, brownies and cinnamon rolls that also happen to be gluten-free.

Lauren Marts runs the gluten-free bakery. Photo courtesy of Baked True North.

As a child, Marts learned how to bake from her grandmother but she had to discover new dessert-making skills and adapt to using nut-based flours when her husband had to cut gluten from his diet. Store-bought gluten-free pastries just didn’t satisfy his sweet tooth.

After a lot of trial and error, Marts found ways to modify some of her favorite family recipes.

She hit the farmers’ market circuit and began distributing goodies to cafes throughout the region such as Commonplace Coffee, which will provide the java for Baked True North.

Grab a scone to start your day. Photo courtesy of Baked True North.

The treats were so popular, even among gluten eaters, that the small, home-based company needed to expand.

“Most of our customers are gluten-free by choice or need,” Marts says. “Almost a third of the country is gluten-free. We’ve put a lot of thought into making it taste good.”

Located in the former Herman J. Heyl Florist & Greenhouse, Baked True North will have 2,000 square feet of indoor space, plus a patio. In addition to sweet treats, the spot will offer savory items, such as English muffins, cheese buns, focaccia and breakfast sandwiches.

The bakery will sell sweets along with vintage dishes. Photo courtesy of Baked True North.

The bakery will start as a takeout operation but eventually, patrons can pull up a seat or peruse Baked True North’s selection of locally made products and vintage kitchenware such as platters, plates, mugs, cookie jars and salt-and-pepper shakers. Marts has been amassing the retro collectibles for years and is always on the lookout for more.

She also wants to continue collaborating with other gluten-free companies in the area, including Aurochs Brewing in Emsworth.

It’s been a long road to opening a brick-and-mortar bakery, but Marts says her faith and the support of loyal customers keep her moving forward. She’s happy to put McCandless on the map as a gluten-free baked goods destination.

Kristy Locklin is a North Hills-based writer. When she's not busy reporting, she enjoys watching horror movies and exploring Pittsburgh's craft beer scene.